Title: Strategies against competency obsolescence: the case of R&D-intensive organisations

Authors: Wolfgang H. Guttel, Stefan Konlechner, Florian Kohlbacher, Beate Haltmeyer

Addresses: Chair of Organization and Strategic Management, University of Hamburg, Von Melle-Park 5, D-20148 Hamburg, Germany. ' Department of Management, Institute for Human Resource Management, Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Althanstrabe 51, A-1090, Vienna, Austria. ' German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ), Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F, 7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0094, Japan. ' R'M International, Fischhof 3/6, A-1010 Vienna, Austria

Abstract: The consequences of demographic change for firms are increasingly discussed in both academia and industry. However, empirical findings indicate that the correlation between an employee|s age and performance is nearly insignificant. What matters most is the currency of employees| competencies. The Human Resources Management (HRM) literature offers suggestions about |best practices| to keep competencies up to date. In this paper, we present empirical results from R&D-intensive organisations (non-university research). Based on qualitative empirical data, we identified configuration types that perform different strategies for keeping employees| competencies up to date. The differences result from the relation of an organisation|s environment to its internal learning dynamics. Consequently, the appropriateness of Human Resource (HR) strategies, measures and practices to keep competencies up to date depends on the configuration type. |Best practices| in one configuration type can be |worst practices| in another. We show which HR strategies, measures and practices are employed in different configuration types and how they shape the learning dynamics in various environments.

Keywords: obsolescence; ageing workforce; R&D-intensive organisations; exploration; exploitation; ambidexterity; research and development; demographic change; workforce demographics; human resources management; HRM; employee competencies; learning dynamics; human resource strategies.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRDM.2009.023449

International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, 2009 Vol.9 No.2/3, pp.124 - 148

Published online: 24 Feb 2009 *

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